On 5th December 2015, the Elverhøy Church in Tromsø invited to its «Julekonsert»…
Text: Stefanie Singh
Christmas – once the annual celebration of love, family and contemplativeness – has unfortunately become the celebration of consumption and commerce in many places, and those who are sceptical towards this development probably don’t take much pleasure in listening to the same old Christmas hits like «Jingle Bells» (originally composed by James Lord Pierpont) and «Last Christmas» (Wham!) either. All the more it’s a positive surprise to visit the Christmas concert in the Elverhøy Church («Julekonsert i Elverhøy Kirke»): Far away from the Americanized Christmas corniness and with more style instead, Christmas compositions are performed. Christmas compositions which reflect not only the Norwegian, but the Scandinavian Christmas culture overall.
The Christmas concert is opened by the quintette around saxophonist Sondre A. Kleven and their instrumental performances for «Det kimer nå til julefest» and «Jul i Skomakergata». While the former is originally a Danish Christmas carol, the latter is known from the homonymous Norwegian TV show. In fact, «Jul i Skomakergata» is one of the most popular programmes in Norway’s television history. It is a televised Advent calendar, which is broadcasted from December 1st to December 24th.
The female choir Cantus Cordis, conducted by Kjellaug Karen Horsberg Kornstad, first sings «Det er jul» with the soloist Maria Jørgensen and then the Swedish Christmas carol «När det lider mot jul», followed by «Strømpestrikkestrofe» from the televised Advent calendar «Jul i Blåfjell». Televised Advent calendars seem to enjoy great popularity in Norway since «Amalies jul» is another show from that genre and the source of the song «Godnattsang for nissunger» which is performed instrumentally by the «Sondre Kleven Quintet».
Also the male choir Ultralyd, conducted by Sondre A. Kleven, has a composition from a televised Advent calendar in its repertoire, namely «Hem’att tel jul» from «Vazelina Hjulkalender», along with the songs «Lang desembernatt» and «Nordnorsk julesalme».
And then there is Mariann Villanger Fiskeseth, who interprets amongst others «Home for Christmas». Although the English title might suggest it, «Home for Christmas» is not an American Christmas pop song but a beautiful ballad by the Norwegian artist Maria Mena who is currently touring across Europe.
There are a few more songs performed during the one hour in the Elverhøy Church, and although time is flying while sitting in the red wooden church, one is reminded of the fact that Christmas still can be a contemplative event. On that note: Merry Christmas!